gordon mackenzie

gordon mackenzie

[imagine linked]

intro’d to Gordon via Jeff‘s suggested book read – orbiting the giant hairball.. [adding page while bg is reading it]


fast company interview on orbiting (97)


Creative Paradox. “My job was to be loyally subversive,” he explains.


A hairball is an entangled pattern of behavior. It’s bureaucracy, which doesn’t allow much space for original thinking and creativity. It’s the corporate tendency to rely on past policies, decisions, and processes as a formula for future success.


Orbiting is vibrancy. Orbiting is manifesting your originality. It’s pushing the boundaries of ingrained corporate patterns.

and/or.. disengaging from corp patterns..


It’s a symbiotic relationship: without the hairball, the orbiter would spiral into space; without the orbiter’s creativity and originality, the hairball would be a mass of nothing.

hmm.. not so sure.. i think with tech available today… we can orbit w/o the hairball.. that’s what’s different. today. that’s what’s huge. that’s why we can’t not..

let’s do this firstfree art-ists… for (blank)’s sake



You have to find your creative genius in such a way that you still have a relationship with concrete, established norms but are not bound by them.

are we sure about that..? or is that just what we think… ie: science of people in schools ness… B and b and broken feedback loops..


Where do you begin to find this originality?

By knowing yourself. I know that’s not the answer people want to hear — because that’s not easy to do. But that is the answer.

how to be you..

perhaps..how 7 billion people plus.. can play..

a nother way by hosting life bits.. [self talk as data as data.. as the day..]


What is the biggest obstacle to creativity?

Attachment to outcome. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you’re doing. And in the process you shut yourself off to other possibilities.

Ellen Langer – focus on outcome can make us mindless..


from tea w mcnair (2008)


Two hours later (it seemed like a minute), Gordon MacKenzie contacted me in a delightful and appreciative email. We carried on a playful electronic conversation for several months.
“I coming to San Francisco!” he wrote one day. He had a book signing and then want to go some where for dinner and “stay up all night.”
I was beside myself with excitement to finally meet this effulgent advocate for human imagination and creativity in the workplace—any workplace. Every workplace.
Doh! I was scheduled to be out of town, in the East when Gordon would travel from his home in Kansas City to SF. But my friend Susan went. and THEY had dinner and it was grand.
Not long after that, word came that Gordon was dying of cancer.
Contacting his wife, I asked if I could come to Kansas City and sit with Gordon, sing him a song or two and tell him some stories, or just sit.
His request was, that I not come.
If we had been better friends, I would have just gone.
Gordon MacKenzie died October 1999. His Hairballs are all over my loft. I buy them, used, online and give them to everyone who says they’ve never heard of it. (I got one copy, for $8, where the contents were bound upside down from the cover. Pure gold.)
It really is a good idea to reach out to your favorite authors, performers, anyone who has inspired you. I have been privileged to meet so many who encouraged me through their art, words, music, and performances. A few I missed before they moved on.


Tom Kelley on orbiting.. (2010)


from orbiting…

P 47
if you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. Joseph Campbell.. the power of myth
orbiting is following your bliss

whimsy ness. as the day.

P 53
if you are hypnotized by an organization’s culture you become separated from your personal magic

P 64
cows… invisible portion is equivalent to time cow spends in pasture… seemingly idle… but in fact performing alchemy of transforming grass into milk

never nothing going on

p 76

i regressed to age 6

1 yr to be 5

p 82-83 – images are lovely

p 89

tasting the heady intoxication of groping w abandon – intentional chaos.. what it was all about was nonlinearity

x d glasses .. line of best fit.. stigmergy.. et al

carhart harris entropy law

p 91

entropy as rote

whoa… another flavor of entropy ness

p 96

today we put everything in containers.. even people

marsh label law

p 113

rational thinking

Roger Martin‘s reliability oriented ness

p 119

mandatory fun…  and teasing to control..

real play – always free to quit

p 138

milk cans not allowed – these items are not listed as approved furniture..

challenge is to help that bureaucrat discover a means, harmonious with the system, to meet your need..

reminding me of our district – yes person – that we applaud. and rightly so.. doing best to change…

but why spend our energy making yeses w/in system.. when system itself begs to be questioned/disengaged from..

a better way.. more humane..

p 159

masks cause little deaths… little sad deaths..

wilde not us law

masks and measures

p 197

only the renegades in orbit, removed from the hairball’s obsession w quantifying everything, are free to reap the unpredictable bounty of the inscrutable creative process (invisible and elusive)

p 222

knowing that you do not yet have the skills to do anything meaningful with your canvas, the big people take it away from you and give it to society for safekeeping until you have acquired the prescribed skills requisite to the cans’s return. while society is holding this property of yours, it cannot resist the temptation to unroll the canvas and draw pale blue lines and little blue numbers all over its virgin surface. eventually, the canvas is returned to you, its rightful owner. however, it now carries the implied message that if you will paint inside the blue lines and follow the instructions of the little blue numbers your life will be a masterpiece.

and that is a lie.

ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work

making/keeping us like whales in sea world

p 224

if you go to your grave w/o painting your masterpiece it will not get painted. no one else can paint it. only you.

what we need. energy/alive ness..